How the Graphics of Slots Have Developed Over Time

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Close-up of a vintage slot machine.
BetMGM May 27, 2022, 12:26 AM

Modern online slots boast an incredible range of themes, features and high-quality graphics. Besides the RTP (return to player) and win potential, the visuals of a slot machine are the deciding factor when choosing from a wide selection of games. BetMGM alone features hundreds of exciting slot titles, leaving many players to choose an online casino slot purely based on what catches their eye.

However, if you were to travel back in time to the late 19th century, things would be very different. The first slot machines featured three to five drums with playing cards, horseshoes and bells on the reels. Players would insert a nickel, pull the lever to get the reels spinning and wait to see if luck was on their side. It wasn’t long before these early slot machines were outlawed, which ushered in the age of the fruit machine. Symbols were replaced with colorful fruit icons, including cherries, watermelons, oranges and BAR symbols, and prizes came in the form of chewing gum or candy. 

Fortunately, slot machine graphics have evolved alongside technological advancements in recent years, so today’s players are delightfully spoiled for choice. From jungle adventures to secret spy missions, the visuals and themes featured in modern slot games transport players to incredible worlds and offer plenty of surprises along the way. But how did we get from cherries and aces to outer-space adventures? Let’s find out.

Video Slots

These early slot machines were purely mechanical, giving players the feeling that they could control the outcome of the game. The lever that players would pull led to the popular name “one-armed bandit” and remained the foundation of the game for many decades, with the same symbols on every machine. It wasn’t until the 1960s that slot machines evolved into an electronic form, though the lever remained in use. This machine, called the Money Honey, was released by Bally. It became wildly popular and was able to make an automatic payment of up to 500 coins.

The earliest video slot was developed in 1976. This slot used a 19-inch Sony TV to display symbols, which included stars, crowns and 777s. It spearheaded a fresh and exciting evolution for the game genre, with brighter and more vivid graphics than ever, combined brilliantly with cleverly composed sound effects. It first became available in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel before taking the whole Strip by storm. Fortune Coin, as it was named, was acquired by IGT in 1978.

In 1996, WMS Industries released “Reel ’Em,” the first video slot to feature a second-screen bonus round. This was the next milestone in slot graphics and initiated a massive surge in popularity for these games. Slots became responsible for up to 70% of most casinos’ income and took up 70% of the casino floor space.

Modern Slot Graphics

While younger generations may take the ease and accessibility of the Internet for granted, it has only become possible to play at a casino online in the past 25 years or so. While the popularity of land-based slot machines continued to grow, the 1990s also saw the advent of the Internet change the way people played casino games. The first online slot games closely resembled their land-based counterparts, with three reels and the same common symbols. However, as technology evolved, more themes, different layouts and advanced bonuses and features appeared. 

Today, there are more than 100 online slot developers, each with their own unique style and specialty. For example, Konami is known for its vivid and intricate visuals and detailing, while NetEnt combines high-quality graphics with modern themes and innovative features. Today’s online video slots offer excellent graphics and animations, intriguing themes and storylines and fun features such as cascading reels, expanding wilds, sticky symbols, colossal symbols and much more. Slot games can offer literally thousands of ways to win, up to 10 reels, multiple reels per game, plus bonus games with their own set of rules and mechanics. Not only that, but reels can now be featured in other games, too, from live dealer casino games to bingo games!

What the Future Holds

We have no doubt that slot games will continue to evolve, offering even more exciting features and inspiring graphics. With virtual reality (VR), augmented reality and 3D graphics becoming more present in our lives, the digital revolution continues in online gambling. Online casino games are likely to become even more immersive, giving players an interactive experience. 

Virtual Reality Slots

Virtual reality online slots are the next level of gambling experience. By combining virtual reality game technology with the excitement of slot machines, players can step into a virtual casino environment from the comfort of their own homes. 

Reach out and spin the reels with hand gestures, explore detailed environments and interact with characters and objects within the virtual world. The visual and auditory immersion transports you to a whole new level of gameplay, creating a sense of presence and excitement. 

Augmented Reality Slots

Augmented Reality (AR) online slots are transforming the way we play and engage with mobile casino slots. With AR technology, players can blend the digital and real worlds, creating a unique and interactive gaming experience. Using a smartphone or tablet camera, players can overlay virtual slot machines onto their physical surroundings. 

Imagine seeing slot reels spinning on your coffee table or symbols floating in the air before your eyes. AR enhances the immersion by allowing players to physically interact with the game elements, such as tapping or swiping on the screen to spin the reels. This innovative technology brings an extra layer of excitement and interactivity to the gameplay, making it feel like the slot machines are seamlessly integrated into your real environment.

3D Slots

3D online slots are revolutionizing the world of virtual gambling. With cutting-edge technology, these games offer players a visually stunning experience. Expect intricate and realistic 3D graphics that bring the slot themes to life with vibrant colors, detailed animations and captivating visual effects. The use of depth and perspective in these games creates a sense of realism and depth that enhances the gameplay. 

Explore Incredible Slot Graphics at the Best Online Casino

For top-notch slot games, register with BetMGM. This world-class online casino offers an incredible selection of casino games for you to enjoy, including the latest releases and classic favorites.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.